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The graduate student ombuds (GSO) is a neutral and impartial dispute-resolution practitioner who can provide confidential and informal assistance to all graduate and professional students within the West Virginia University community.

Opinions and information shared with the Ombuds are confidential and other parties will not be made aware if a student meets with the GSO, unless the student gives permission.

The GSO does not advocate for any one individual or party, but rather acts as a resource for information and referrals throughout the rest of the University. The GSO can help students critically think through a challenging situation or conflict, can identity relevant resources or contacts across the University, and can explain processes and procedures to students in an informal, confidential, and impartial way.


There are many reasons why students would contact the GSO. Sometimes students are facing a situation or challenge and do not know how to proceed or know where to start. Other times, students may want a third party to simply talk to about a challenging situation or concern. Some students may feel hesitant to go through more formal channels and would like an opportunity to review their options before doing so. If you’re unsure about whether the GSO could assist you, it is better to reach out than not.

What the Ombudsperson Does:

  • Provides a safe and confidential space where students feel respected and heard and can speak candidly without punishment or retaliation.
  • Listens to students’ concerns, complaints, and grievances.
  • Answers students’ questions or locates appropriate resources who can answer them.
  • Helps individuals to critically evaluate their situation and identify possible decision alternatives.
  • Clarifies possible misunderstandings in situations that involve disputes or conflict.
  • Explains University policies and procedures so that students understand the processes and possible consequences associated with different courses of action.
  • Provides referrals to appropriate university resources so that students may better understand whom to contact for further support.
  • Suggests strategies and approaches for addressing and resolving conflict.
  • Identifies and suggests improvements to university policies, procedures, and patterns of treatment.

What the Ombudsperson Does Not Do:

  • Participate in formal grievance procedures, hearings, or other judicial processes.
  • Investigate situations to uncover evidence of wrongdoing.
  • Determine the guilt or innocence of those accused of wrongdoing.
  • Give legal advice.
  • Assign sanctions or punishments to students or other university personnel.
  • Represent or advocate for one party involved in a dispute.
  • Hold hearings.

When to Contact the Graduate Student Ombuds:

  • You are in a situation and do not know how to proceed.
  • You believe you have been treated unfairly or insensitively by others.
  • You feel your concerns or complaints have not been listened to.
  • You feel powerless, frustrated, or afraid.
  • You need coaching on dispute resolution and conflict management.
  • You need help deescalating a situation.